Maya Angelou wrote, “I’ve learned that whenever I decide something with an open heart, I usually make the right decision.”

This was the reading I chose to close a recent class at Brook Road Academy.  As so often is the case, the reading chosen was as much for myself as for my students.  Lately, there has been a lot of decision-making happening after a period of calm.  Jobs have been changing, classes shifting, and I find myself embarking on a new venture:  Picking up the Brook Road Academy outreach from my dear friend Becky Eschenroeder.  I am so grateful for the opportunity, and beyond honored to be able to work with such a cool group of teens.  However, I was also a bit nervous:  How am I to embody the role held by a teacher as beloved as she?

Her answer, sage and simple: “My dear, we do not wear shoes.” Becky reminded me that it’s not hard to remember what it was like to be a teen: You are still that young person inside.  It is true:  It feels like yesterday I was getting ready to make the leap from high school out into the world. The problems and stressors I had then are not that much different now.  My teenage years were the years I started my journey into my yoga practice;  these formative years are when humans can make a beneficial coping strategy, like yoga, a habit.  How amazing is it that Brook Road Academy, through the cooperation of teacher Ben Walters and Project Yoga Richmond, provides this?

On May 20th, Becky and I co-taught the final class of the school year.  Students brought a giant, colorful card, gifts (including a necklace I refuse to take off), and a huge turnout.  Even the sun showed up for the occasion.  Becky led us through a vinyasa sequence, with students calling out Sanskrit names and playfully moving through their practice.  Halfway through, Becky turned to me and whispered, “You’ve got this now.”  Even though that was a queue for this specific class, it was also for a passing of this outreach opportunity.  And now: I’ve got this.

This summer, through PYR, I’ll be attending the Kripalu Institute’s Yoga in the Schools program.  I know I’ll be gaining a lot of technical knowledge there, and I am so excited to do it.  But nothing will replace the boost of confidence and love I got from Becky and the students that day.

Being given the chance to work with PYR and the fantastic crew at Brook Road Academy, I find it fitting to close with a continuation of Maya’s wisdom: “I’ve learned that even when I have pains, I don’t have to be one. I’ve learned that every day you should reach out and touch someone. People love a warm hug, or just a friendly pat on the back. I’ve learned that I still have a lot to learn. I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

I am grateful for all my students, my PYR family, and especially Brook Road Academy, for making me feel loved.  I hope I can do the same in return.

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